Google Survey: Executives Devalue Sustainability

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by KnowESG
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Google Cloud's recent Sustainability Survey indicates that high-level executives do not consider corporate sustainability as significant as they did a year ago.

Google Cloud's latest Sustainability Survey discovered that global executives now rank environmental, social, and governance (ESG) initiatives as their third most important business priority, which is a shift from last year when it was their top priority.

This change in attitude toward sustainability as a short-term cost rather than a long-term investment is partly driven by the current macroeconomic environment, where organisations must achieve sustainability progress with fewer capital resources, according to 78% of survey respondents.

Despite the reduced prioritisation given to sustainability, executives are still interested in making progress, said Justin Keeble, Google Cloud's managing director for global sustainability. However, executives face new challenges in achieving their sustainability goals, such as economic headwinds, measurement difficulties, and implementation challenges.

In the survey, 59% of global executives admitted to overstating or inaccurately representing their organisation's sustainability efforts, which Google Cloud refers to as "corporate greenwashing" or "green hypocrisy." The survey also revealed that 75% of executives agreed that most companies in their industry would be caught greenwashing if they were thoroughly investigated, indicating the popularity of this tactic.

Executives identified a lack of sustainability tools as the primary barrier to ESG progress, with 87% seeking better measurement systems to establish accurate and realistic targets. According to Chris Talbott, who heads sustainability at Google Cloud, executives find themselves in a precarious position when discussing sustainability efforts publicly because they lack insights into those efforts.

Keeble emphasised that sustainability is still about transforming the business. Economic headwinds do not deter companies that take sustainability seriously; they recognise the need to transition their businesses to more sustainable models, build resilience in their operations and supply chains, and increase efficiency by doing more with less.

Sustainability is not merely a PR exercise or a method to enhance brand reputation but rather a crucial aspect of the business. During tough times, it becomes clear which organisations are serious about sustainability and which ones are just giving lip service, according to Keeble.

Furthermore, sustainability needs greater attention for its business value and benefits. Despite budget cuts in most industries, this presents an opportunity to clarify strategic areas of investment that make good business sense, such as allocating resources to sustainability-driven technology and innovation.

Sustainability programmes can help organisations identify inefficiencies in material or energy use, manage various risk factors, such as acute climate risks, and promote transparency to stakeholders while working towards environmental objectives.

To view and compare company ESG Ratings and Sustainability Reports across sectors, follow our Company ESG Profiles page.

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Source: sdx central


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